LeBron James’ final season with the Cavaliers was wasted after Cleveland didn’t get enough in the summer trade that sent Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics.
James has been adamant he didn’t want the Cavs to deal the superstar guard, but he didn’t do a lot to bridge the divide between he and Irving. The 33-year-old still believes Irving’s problems were with the organization and not with playing alongside him.
Jason Lloyd of The Athletic told James Wednesday after the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Cavs that multiple sources have told him Irving’s issues were indeed with James and not wanting to play with a roster built around the star forward once he left.
King James’ response to the information shouldn’t surprise anyone.
“That’s not my problem. If that’s the case, that’s definitely not my problem,” James told The Athletic. “I never felt like I didn’t want to play with him. The only thing I tried to do is give him whatever I could and more.”
James, however, agrees he didn’t do a lot to mend the fractured relationship, believing it was past repair once he got wind of the trade request.
“I think by the time it got to me he wanted to be traded, I think he was already gone,” James said. “He was already gone and it was up to the organization to do their job and try to keep him as well. The guy still had two years left on his contract. They didn’t have to give him up. It could’ve been repaired then. Bring him in, let’s see what happens. I don’t think his stock drops if he still comes to Cleveland, see what happens and at the trade deadline you could still do it then.”
As much as James wants to claim it wasn’t his problem, it was. Once the Cavs dealt Irving to their Eastern Conference rival, he was left with a roster that was ill-equipped to beat the Golden State Warriors and win the NBA title. Cleveland’s ultimate haul for Irving left James with a supporting cast of J.R. Smith, Kyle Korver, Tristan Thompson, Rodney Hood, Jordan Clarkson and George Hill. A team that was outmanned and ultimately was dusted by the Warriors in the NBA Finals.
Had James been able to talk Irving into staying for one last ride in Cleveland, the Cavs might have been able to challenge a Warriors team that appeared weaker than in years past. Instead, both are trying to unseat the Warriors from their respective perches in Boston and Los Angeles leaving many to wonder what might have been had they stuck together.
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